The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have decided to raise their tuition fees by 80% in a key step towards their financial autonomy from the government, agreeing in return to an external, five-yearly performance review for the first time.
Undergraduate and masters students at the premier engineering schools will now need to pay Rs. 90,000 a year, up from Rs. 50,000 a year at present, the IIT Council -- the apex decision making body of the institutes – decided on Monday.
The Council, chaired by human resources development minister MM Pallam Raju also decided to exempt students from central technical institutions like the IITs and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) from appearing from the GATE, a national test, for PhD admissions to the IITs.
HT on October 23, 2012 was the first to report on this dramatic plan, aimed at encouraging young scientists and engineers to pursue research careers.
Though the decision to hike fees is likely to spark protests from educationists and political leaders who have opposed this move in the past, there is no evidence yet that the moved will hurt economically weak students, and came with a guarantee.
About 25% of all students who clear the test typically come from families with incomes less than Rs. 4.5 lakh annually – and they do not need to pay any tuition fee to the IITs.
All scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students – another 22.5% of those admitted – are also exempt from any tuition fee.
“We stand committed to ensuring that no student who clears the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) will have to give up his or her IIT seat because of financial reasons,” Pallam Raju said.
The move is aimed at bridging the gap between the amount the IITs spend on each student – over Rs. 2.25 lakh a year – and the fee they collect.
The balance, currently paid by the government, makes the IITs dependent on the whims of their political masters.
A panel of experts under former atomic energy chief Anil Kakodkar had recommended raising the IIT fees to cover the entire cost on students, but the Council decided to keep the fees at Rs. 90,000, fearing political protests.
A panel of external experts -- including international academicians -- will review the performance of IITs once every five years, benchmarking them against global standards.
The IITs will also allow the top 15% of students from the NITs to directly join their PhD programmes under a special project to train them as potential teachers at the IITs.
What the IIT Council decided
*Tuition fee hike from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 90, 000 a year
*Exempting IIT, NIT grads from GATE for PhD admissions
*Allow top 15% NIT students into a teacher-training program for IITs
*Periodic performance review of IITs